Last week, I went back to taste the three Glens and reaffirmed my preference for the 12 year old Glenfiddich over Glenlivet 12 and Glenmorangie 10. Based on that experiment, I decided to dig into the 'Fiddich a bit more with a vertical tasting of the 12, 15 and 18 year olds.
Glenfiddich 12 year old ($20-$25).
I retasted the 12 year old as a baseline for this exercise. There it stood, in all its malty glory. The more I taste it, the more I remember the smooth, malty qualities that attracted me to Scotch many years ago. Its flavor is among the most consistent I've had, providing the same experience from nose to finish in a way that very few whiskies can do.
Glenfiddich 15 years old ($30-$40).
The 15 has a fruitier nose than the 12 with a bit more fruit on the palate with hay or straw. It almost reminds me of a good Irish whiskey.
Glenfiddich 18 years old ($60-$70)
A beautiful nose with sweet fruit. The taste starts with fruit and then yields to malt, oak and polished wood. It has a big flavor and the wood of a fine, aged whisky.
These were all good whiskies. I enjoyed the 18 year old the most for its interplay between fruit, malt and wood, then the 12 for its straightforward maltiness. I preferred both to the 15 which, for some reason, struck me as less mature. I tasted these along with a cask strength version of the 15 year old that is only available on the European market. I didn't add the cask strength version to the notes since it isn't available in the US, but it pushed the 15 to a new level, with more complexity and flavor.
For all that people take Glenfiddich for granted, it is definitely a whisky worth returning to.